Chronic hair loss is a difficult condition to reckon with for a number of reasons. Treatment varies for alopecia, but there are many of options out there that can help you deal with hair loss quickly and efficiently.
Hair loss of any kind can be considered alopecia. The condition has a number of causes, from hormonal shifts to aging, or harder to explain problems like faulty immune response. The most common form of hair loss is male and female pattern baldness. This refers to hereditary hair loss characterized by thinning hair and baldness. For men, male pattern baldness much more commonly leads to true baldness, whereas women generally experience thinning hair, but no baldness.
Alopecia areata or alopecia totalis are more severe forms of hair loss. Alopecia areata refers to a fairly sudden, complete, or near-complete loss of hair in one or more patches of the body. This can occur on the scalp or anywhere else on the body. Alopecia totalis is total hair loss on the scalp, while alopecia universalis refers to total hair loss on a person’s body is lost, even hairs within the ear and nose. These conditions are much more rare than general hair loss, but they do occur. The scientific consensus is that alopecia areata and these other rare conditions occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicle.
For best results, pattern baldness or hereditary thinning needs to be treated before the hair loss is complete. You have to pay attention to your thinning hair, especially if your parents or grandparents have pattern alopecia.
Once you’ve identified the potential hair loss, get your dermatologist’s help quickly. After identifying and determining that the cause of your hair loss is related to hereditary thinning or pattern baldness, treatment can begin. The most common treatment for thinning hair is a topical drug called minoxidil. Minoxidil can be purchased over the counter, but it is also sometimes prescribed by a doctor to treat thinning hair. When used early, minoxidil can slow hair loss and promote regrowth of lost hair. The results take time, but are effective for a lot of people. If you discontinue the use of minoxidil, your hair loss will likely continue.
For men, a drug called Finasteride is often effective at slowing hair loss. It inhibits the production of the male hormone DHT, which can cause hair loss.
It stands to reason that it’s harder to treat more extreme hair loss. For conditions like alopecia totalis or universalis where hair is often lost to the point of total baldness, other treatments are necessary. Sometimes these treatments are more cosmetic than medicinal. For instance, it might be necessary to surgically relocate hair follicles from unaffected areas to the areas affected by alopecia.
Surgical treatments are often the last option taken, however, and your dermatologist can recommend some other things first. Corticosteroids, either injected or applied topically, can regulate the immune system, saving your hair follicles from alopecia’s mistaken identity problem. Sometimes, alopecia totalis can be treated with light therapy. Light therapy involves a concentrated laser light or broad-spectrum light. Ultraviolet light is applied to the affected area and the skin’s natural response increases blood flow to the follicles, which can encourage regrowth.
There are a number of chronic hair loss treatments out there and we can’t possibly list them all. The good news is that your best hair loss treatment is available at your local Northeast Dermatology Associates office. Contact us today.